Barcelona have set a deadline of 6th January for Samuel Umtiti to avoid undergoing surgery on an ongoing knee issue. 

The France centre-back has been struggling with the injury since September, coming back briefly at the end of last month to play 90 minutes against Atletico Madrid before disappearing to the physio's room again. 


Spanish outlet Sport report that the 25-year-old has been keen to avoid any surgical treatment on the issue, but the club is beginning to get frustrated with the amount of time he has missed – with the timeline for his return still unclear. 

Barca confirmed last week that Umtiti will head to Qatar to 'conservative' treatment on his knee in a last-ditch attempt to avoid surgery, with the Catalan paper describing him as having 'blind faith' in doctor Gerard Saillant, who treated his international teammate Raphael Varane's knee issues. 

The club are pushing Umtiti to move decisively and clarify his timeline, with Clement Lenglet and the underperforming Gerard Pique their only reliably fit options at centre-back in the Frenchman's absence. 

Injury-prone veteran Thomas Vermaelen is coming back from his own injury layoff, and could be in line to face Tottenham in the Champions League next week with top spot in Group B already locked up. 

The Catalans have been hit with a number of knee injuries this season, with Rafinha facing a long-term layoff after an ACL injury suffered against Atletico Madrid, and Luis Suarez currently sidelined with a knee problem of his own – likely missing the club's next two or three games. 

Meanwhile, Sergi Roberto could miss the rest of 2018 with a hamstring injury, while Arthur and Jasper Cillessen deal with abductor and leg injuries respectively.